"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Friday, July 4, 2008

Destination Movies:

I've been really inspired by traveling this week — both because of my own itch to go on an adventure right now. I have two more months before I head to Germany on a 2-week castle & cuisine trip. As part of my travel urge, I got to thinking about movies that captured a culture and a country so well that they've made me add a new entry to my list of places I have visited or vowed to visit soon. Come away with me on a mini-jaunt around the globe!

Out of Africa: This Oscar-winning classic directed by the late Sydney Pollack starred Meryl Streep and an extremely dreamy Robert Redford, but the biggest star of the film is East Africa. The movie is loosely based on Karen Blixen's 1937 autobiography about her real-life journey to Kenya. The character based on Blixen enters a loveless marriage but then meets Redford's character, a local-game hunter, and an epic romance ensues. The movie was filmed on location and is breathtakingly beautiful. If this doesn't make you consider Africa as a travel destination, I don't know what will. I went on a safari to Kenya in 2006 and absolutely fell in love with the country.

French Kiss: Most people probably don't need their arms twisted to stick France on their travel list, but when a movie comes along that captures that certain je ne sais quoi of the French countryside, vineyards, and coast, it makes not being there feel nearly intolerable. French Kiss is one of those movies, and it stars Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline as unlikely partners in a trek across France. She's on a mission to get her cheating fiance back, and he's a petty criminal who helps her as a means to reach his own goal of buying back a vineyard he lost. Their chemistry is charming, but the way the film captures the spirit and nonchalance of the place is what makes it a lovely vicarious trip abroad. My last trip to France was in 2005. It's time to head back.

Sex and Lucia: To call this movie racy is probably an understatement. The word "sex" is in the title for good reason, because there's a lot of it in this mystical Spanish film — and it's pretty explicitly discussed and enacted. You've been warned. That said, nearly five years after I first saw this, what sticks with me are the unbelievably gorgeous shots of nature: the azure skies and ocean set against the snow-white sands of Spain's Balearic Islands. After this movie, this semi-remote location has remained high on my list of places to get myself to.

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